National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is almost here! Galleycat recently wrote about NaNoWriMo’s website being relaunched, as well as giving a little background on the NaNoWriMo concept and what it has done for writing. Most interesting is that over 90 published novels have come out of this experiment in writing!
In the era of the smartphone, and the near-instantaneous alerts and messages, it is important to become, and teach students to be, social media savvy and know the way around the blogosphere/online network communities. Part of this is knowing how to create a professional brand for yourself online. Ed2010 posted an article recently with several key tips on how to do just that because, “It’s being able to know and articulate, authentically, what serves to differentiate you from every other candidate.”
Interviews are an essential part of finding your way onto the job market. They help you land that career you’ve always dreamed of having or even that part-time summer job your parents told you to get so you’re not sitting around all summer doing nothing. Regardless of what you’re interviewing for, there are ways to better prepare yourself. Writer’s Market recently posted an article that can help future employees and even future employers prepare for and conduct a stellar interview.
From the blog “Terrible Minds,” a comical approach to the twenty-five thing writers need to STOP doing. RIGHT NOW. Ranging anywhere from “Stop Worrying” to “Stop Blaming Everyone Else,” to even “Stop Caring About What Other Writers Are Doing.” Well worth the read if you’re a writer having a hard time trying to banish that nagging self-doubt.
In a world where social media is quickly becoming the norm for many celebrities and politicians to connect with their fan base, one question is being asked: “Is this brevity, which has long been practiced, now being imposed upon writers by Twitter?” In an article written by the New York Daily News, there is an interesting argument by critics for and against the use of Twitter for writers, that explores whether this brevity hinders or helps creativity.
Our new website continues our experimentation with regard to the communication practices of an academic department. When we started this experiment a number of years ago, we focused on social media and on listening as much as talking.
We will continue much of what has worked in the past. We still have our undergraduate interns (@brooklynrose217, @dakinmsu, @jennshelden) and their fearless leader (@soulsmiles). Their job is to help us leverage a platform such as a departmental website to do some good in the world.
But what is new about this website? It looks different, yes, and there are some enhancements in functionality. However, the big shifts are rhetorical. With this new website, we are trying to pivot to meet the needs of an external audience. To be sure, we will provide basic departmental content that will help students, faculty, and others at Michigan State to work with us as an academic unit. In fact, we hope that content is more useful than what we provided previously.
The big change is the content feed on the main page. Here we hope to provide content that is useful, interesting, fun, and engaging for those interested in “writing.” Our interns will listen and share what they learn, and I will do the same. But we have also invited faculty to share ideas that they think matter. We have invited alumni to write with us. We have also invited friends from other universities and organizations to write as well. We want to become a resource on rhetoric and writing and to be useful to our audience.
As we continue this experiment, we don’t know what will happen. Nearly everyone I have consulted about this strategy thinks it will fail. It might. But maybe not. Maybe we can facilitate something special. The beauty of a university is that it concentrates talent in time and space. Such concentration facilitates magic. We are some 50 faculty and over 200 students, all bouncing into one another, and I am counting on a little of that magic to help this experiment succeed.
In a recent blog post on Beyond The Margins, titled “Filling in the Blanks: When a Society Acquires Freedom of Speech,” Julie Wu writes about her travel to Taiwan to research her second novel and the memories and thoughts this trip has conjured for her. In the same breath that she revels in democracy’s freedom of speech she is compelled to speak of the opposite of this freedom, censorship. Wu’s blog posts offers a unique perspective into the complexities of writing, cultural and governmental politics, and democracy.
In a TedTalk filmed this summer, Kirby Ferguson challenges us to think of remix as “a better way to conceive of creativity.” He uses the repertoire of Bob Dylan to point out the clearly remixed melodies and lyrics that Dylan uses from folk singers, which he reminds us is actually typical of folk musicians, a remix culture maintained by building on one another’s works.
In this video Ferguson is arguing that “everything is remix.” He then boils remix down to three steps – copy, transform, and combine. He calls on Woody Guthrie and Henry Ford to show not just that everything is remix, but that remix has always existed. He says, “Our creativity comes from without, not from within. We are not self-made, we are dependent on one another.”
Considering the explosion of remix in the writing classroom, Ferguson’s invitation is a call to engaging this creativity in our students, our colleagues, and ourselves.